Four William Penn Charter high school students will debate alongside students from China this weekend as a part of a two-day debate and educational exchange initiative called the Global Green Forum: Future Leaders Growing Solutions for a Cleaner Earth.
The debate will be held on UPenn’s campus from Oct. 5 to 6 where Chinese and American students will be paired in teams to debate topics on environmental sustainability, health care, international relations, economic performance, and global trends in media, language, and culture.
The Penn Charter students selected, Isa Djerassi, Celina McCall, Paul Eberwine and Nile Hodges, say they have enjoyed studying and researching the debate topics.
“I did a lot of research on energy and transportation statistics to prepare,” said Hodges, a sophomore at the school. “I looked at the problem of gas consumption and gas-consuming cars.”
McCall, a junior at the school, echoed his sentiments on the topic.
“I think it’s about consumer education,” said McCall, who hopes to see a rise in hybrid cars, “there could be a lot more done to educate the consumers.”
With only a little over a week to prepare, they say adding the extra studying to their workload was worth it.
“I realized that really, I had very little knowledge of some of these issues,” said Eberwine, a junior at the school, who noted that educating himself on these topics was eye-opening.
Djerassi, a junior at the school, says she will argue against fracking practices in Pa. during the debate.
“When my mom and I picked up my brother from camp this summer, we were in a town where fracking was going on,” said Djerassi, “we found out that none of the locals benefit from that, it’s all company profit.”
Welcoming Chinese students to Philadelphia
The debate is an effort of the China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia (CPGP), a non-profit organization that promotes collaboration between Philadelphia and the People’s Republic of China.
As part of their visit, Chinese students will also go to local clean-tech facilities, including the DOE-funded Energy Efficient Buildings Hub at the Navy Yard, tour Philadelphia’s historic sites, and meet with the Deputy Mayor.
China Central Television (CCTV) will also air the debate for nearly 100 million people in China.
Fear and excitement
As members of the school’s mock trial team, the students say they will take what they have learned to the debate floor, but they still have some anxieties.
“This is a new experience for us,” said McCall, “I am nervous to debate students who have more experience in a formalized debate.”
As they prepare to debate on a global level, the students admitted that the opportunity was a rare one.
“I’m really looking forward to meet my Chinese counterparts,” said Hodges. “I’m interested to see how they react to the questions, to see these issues from their standpoint and see what they see.”